The Filling Station Deli in downtown Hillsdale. Courtesy Facebook

Hillsdale College football and baseball ath­letes are working at the Filling Station Deli in downtown Hillsdale. A handful of stu­dents have been rotating through and taking shifts since 2014.

Cindy Bieszk, the owner, will cel­e­brate 17 years of running the deli on May 1. With a steady stream of business from the football, baseball, and bas­ketball teams, she has been a staple of the stu­dents’ Hillsdale expe­rience. The deli itself has served the com­munity for 28 years.

“When football travels, I do their sack lunches,” she said. “I’ve fed pretty much all the teams.”

When Garet Lee ’14 injured himself playing football for the Chargers, he became a potential employee for Bieszk. With the economy improving, Bieszk said, she needed an extra body in the deli. Lee lived close to Hillsdale and was able to take shifts at the Filling Station.

By the time Lee grad­uated, Bieszk needed someone to take his place. Lee named Sam Landry ’15 as his suc­cessor, starting a trend of football players vetting their peers for the coveted shifts at the Filling Station.

“They tell me who’s going to work the best,” Bieszk said.

Of course, with the Filling Station’s unique design, not everyone can join the team. Players over 6 feet 2 inches can’t stoop beneath the deli’s low ceiling. Aside from this physical deterrent, the student workers select their suc­cessors based on per­son­ality and ability to work within the team.

Bieszk noted the lim­i­ta­tions set by the restaurant’s tight space, saying, “There’s a con­cussion pro­tocol for the too-tall guys.”

With some employees grad­u­ating each December, the sandwich shop owner said she has been “rotating bodies in” as posi­tions open up. As the number of employees has increased incre­men­tally each year, the demand for the posi­tions has increased as well. Now three members of the football team and one baseball player work at the deli.

“I got the job from Scotty Penola and Jordan Har­lamert,” senior Alex Zim­merman said. “They rec­om­mended me to Cindy and she slowly started to give me shifts so I could learn the ropes, and even­tually I just started working more and more.”

Zim­merman joined after Penola and Har­lamert grad­uated and now works three days a week at the deli.

“The expe­rience so far has been awesome,” he said. “It’s a great job for my schedule. The toughest part has been mas­tering the cash reg­ister and mem­o­rizing orders. The best part has been the people who work there.

Christian Rodino, who grad­uates next December, reached out to Bieszk this year to see if he could spend some of his free time working at her restaurant. The baseball team member is the first student to land a position without the football team’s blessing, but his fre­quent stops at the deli helped him develop a rela­tionship with the owner led to his hiring.

“I just wanted to get some work because I’m planning on going on a trip to Europe this summer,” he said.

Rodino and the baseball team provide the deli with business when their coaches buy them lunch there, he said. The sandwich place fed the team when the cafe­teria was closed to the ath­letes over school breaks. Rodino said the job was a great fit because of his schedule-ori­ented lifestyle as an athlete.

“It’s very fun to work with these people,” Rodino said.“I like every­thing here.”